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Seven career-based New Year’s resolutions that you should stick to

Struggling to think of New Year’s resolutions that you might actually keep? Emma Page provides some practical ideas for pledges that could give your career a boost.

Making resolutions at New Year is as much of a tradition as eating turkey at Christmas but sticking to them is more of a challenge; more than 80% of us fail to achieve our goals. Common career-based pledges — I will get a promotion, I will manage my work-life balance better — often do not materialise because, like the former, they are not specific enough or, like the latter, they are not measurable. In some cases they are just not realistic.

To help you avoid setting vague, unattainable goals for 2015, here are some suggestions for resolutions you are likely to be able to achieve — and boost your career in the process.


Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Attend a webinar, workshop or study day

Source: Javier Maria Trigo Conzalez

“Attend a webinar, workshop or study day”

One way to improve your knowledge in a specific area is to participate in a webinar, workshop or study day. These are coordinated by a variety of pharmacy organisations including the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). Topics can range from specific clinical specialisms, such as asthma, to developing particular skills, such as consultation techniques.

Webinars hosted by the RPS cover clinical and professional topics — most recently, pharmacist Philip Newland-Jones led a session about diabetes management. Webinars usually consist of a slideshow presentation accompanied by a presenter’s voice. Those interested in watching a webinar are encouraged to participate via live online chat, although the videos do remain available to view later. Other topics recently covered by RPS webinars include models of care for patient consultation, and how to build a Faculty portfolio.

Sarah Carter is general secretary at the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA), which runs masterclasses on a variety of topics for pharmacists practising at different levels, from beginners to specialists. For those attending a masterclass for the first time, Carter advises: “Find out about the speakers in advance, and come ready with questions you want to ask them. Be confident and speak up — if you have a question, ask it. The chances are that someone else will be thinking the same thing.”

She adds: “Networking with peers is often cited as the most valuable benefit of UKCPA master classes. Many practitioners working in specialisms or in a community pharmacy are isolated with little regular contact with their peers. A masterclass gives delegates the opportunity to meet others in their field of practice, swap contact details, and share experiences.”

To do by the end of January: choose at least one study day or alternative that you’d like to attend.

To do by the end of 2015: attend a combination of three or more study days, webinars or workshops.


Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Join your local practice forum

Source: Javier Maria Trigo Gonzalez

“Join your local practice forum”

If you wish to network with other pharmacy professionals on a more regular basis, you may consider joining your local practice forum (LPF). Gillian Hawksworth, who leads the West Yorkshire LPF, says the main function of the forum is to bring together pharmacists, pre-registration trainees and students from all sectors of the profession.

Pharmacists may benefit from LPF membership because they can access support for their continuing professional development and share best practice and other experiences with their local colleagues. Those interested in joining their LPF should sign up via the RPS website — they will then receive timely updates and event invitations. Some events with expert speakers are also open to non-RPS members.

Alice Dartnell, RPS local relationship development manager, says: “LPFs are an excellent way to receive information about what is happening on the ground locally. The forums arrange events on a range of topics, including clinical updates, political news and current pharmacy issues. LPFs are also starting to engage with local audits and research, provide support for pre-registration trainees and students, and also run sessions to help members build their Faculty portfolios.”

To do by the end of January: sign up to your LPF on the RPS website to begin receiving alerts.

To do by the end of 2015: regularly attend LPF meetings and actively participate in discussions.


Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Build a relationship with your local healthcare professional

Source: Javier Maria Trigo Gonzalez

“Build a relationship with other local healthcare professionals”

It is also worthwhile to connect with healthcare professionals outside of the pharmacy profession — and this does not only include GPs. Pharmacist Rena Amin, who is a partner at Hartland Way GP Surgery, says: “Working with GPs is valuable for pharmacists working in primary care. However, building relationships with other members of the multidisciplinary team can be equally vital because it reinforces the whole team approach. We are all equally responsible for the care of the patient, and we all bring a different set of skills to the table.”

Establishing an open dialogue brings clarity about the remit of all the different roles, which can help to avoid duplication, says Amin. “For example, if the GP knows that the pharmacist can manage the medicines for patients and make timely interventions, the GP will avoid unnecessary diversions from their own role,” she explains. Additionally, she recommends discussing drug shortages with the GP: “If the GP is aware of the situation, you can discuss alternative prescribing options and substitutions. Be proactive rather than reactive.”

Amin highlights that members of the multidisciplinary team, including GPs, district nurses, community matrons and social workers, have a mandatory meeting once a month to consider any action that could be taken to prevent unplanned admissions to hospital. “These meetings are a chance for health and social care to work in a more integrated way for patients — if pharmacists can contribute to them, it’s a good way to build a rapport and show their value to the rest of the team,” she says.

“If you do not have time to attend these meetings, perhaps send a pre-registration trainee to the GP’s surgery for some induction training,” she adds.

Amin believes now is the right time for pharmacists to reach out to their local GP. “Primary care is facing increasing pressure and pharmacists can really help to alleviate some of this. Don’t wait for the GP to call you,” she emphasises.

To do by the end of January: make a list of local healthcare providers and consider how building a relationship with each one could be of mutual benefit.

To do by the end of 2015: be familiar with all members of your local multidisciplinary team, and attend monthly meetings if possible.


Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Become a dementia friend

Source: Javier Maria Trigo Gonzalez

“Become a dementia friend”

Dementia friends is an initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society which encourages individuals to consider small things they can do to make a difference to people with dementia and their families. Training can be completed online, which takes around ten minutes, or in a 40-minute information session led by a dementia friend champion.

Anne Cole is a regional manager from CPPE, which has recruited 43 dementia friend champions. She says: “Pharmacists are well placed to help, for example, identifying people who may have dementia and signposting them and their families to support services, looking out for medicines (or combinations of medicines) that may be causing or worsening symptoms of dementia and helping people get the most from their prescribed medicines for dementia.”

She emphasises that community pharmacists in particular may benefit from doing the training. “Finding out more about how dementia affects people and what you can do to help — for example, making your pharmacies welcoming and supportive to people with dementia —will encourage people with dementia and their families to use your services.”

To do by the end of January: complete the online training or sign up to attend an information session.

To do by the end of 2015: become a dementia friend champion and lead your own information session.


Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Become a pre-registration tutor

Source: Javier Maria Trigo Gonzalez

“Become a pre-registration tutor”

Being a tutor for pre-registration trainees can be a challenging but rewarding experience, according to Aamer Safdar, who tutors trainees at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. “As a pre-registration tutor, you are able to shape the trainee in terms of their practice, how they make decisions and how they relate to patients, which results in better patient care,” he says.

“One of the major advantages is that you will be learning from newly graduated students who are up to date with their knowledge from their degree,” he adds. “I learn from their knowledge while they learn from my experience.” However, Safdar warns that the role is not for everyone, and advises that people think carefully before committing to becoming a tutor — he says the first thing to consider is whether you are genuinely interested in the role and then ensure that you have the time to assist the trainee.

However, he says there is a lot of support available for tutors and trainees from the RPS and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), and he encourages tutors to share their experiences with others. “There is no shame in asking someone else if you’re stuck. I often speak to others for advice and their perspective, even though I have been doing this for years,” he says.

To do by the end of January: have a look at the tutor guidelines from the GPhC and find out if your pharmacy is registered with the GPhC as a training premises. If not, ask the GPhC pre-registration team to help you get it approved.

To do by the end of 2015: take on a pre-registration trainee for 2015–2016.


Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Be an active participant in a pharmacy conference

Source: Javier Maria Trigo Gonzalez

“Be an active participant in a pharmacy conference”

If you are new to attending national or global pharmacy conferences, it can be daunting to try to network with strangers and showcase your own work. However, Mike Rouse of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education says that this is how he gets the most value from attending conferences. “What was important early on is that people realised I was interested in getting involved and was willing to contribute meaningfully to working groups, committees and projects,” he says. “So if you want to grow personally, there is definitely a need to be proactive and volunteer.”

Mette Heringa, who won the poster competition for the community pharmacy section at 2014’s International Pharmaceutical Federation congress, agrees: “Do not only ask yourself what you can get out of it, but also what you can contribute. The interaction with the other attendees adds value to the experience, which gives you refreshing viewpoints and the possibility to step aside and reflect on your daily work.”

She adds that posters are not always limited to the presentation of scientific research, so it is possible to present ongoing projects or innovations from daily work. “Your daily practice can be an eye-opener for colleagues abroad and vice versa,” she says, and emphasises that receiving feedback on your work from others can be inspiring.

Heringa advises individuals to choose the conferences they attend carefully. She asks: “What do you want to gain from a conference — the latest information on specific topics or a broader view with insights from other working fields?”

To do by the end of January: look at the upcoming conferences for 2015, and choose one to attend or even present your work at.

To do by the end of 2015: attend a pharmacy conference and complete a list of pre-written objectives: for example, collect ten business cards or present a poster.


Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Get your community pharmacy

Source: Javier Maria Trigo Gonzalez

“Get your community pharmacy Research Ready”

Research Ready is an online self-accreditation assessment for community pharmacies, covering the basic requirements for undertaking primary care research in the UK. “By being involved in research, you can enhance the care that you give to your patient population, and it is an opportunity to get the whole team involved in something that is for the patient benefit,” says Priya Patel, research manager at the RPS. She explains that the assessment is aimed at the research lead, who must be a registered pharmacist or pharmacy technician who is willing to take professional responsibility for completing the assessment.

Once a pharmacy is accredited, the RPS will inform the Clinical Research Network of the National Institute for Health Research, who will then send invitations to take part in studies, explains Patel. Accredited pharmacies are under no obligation to take part and should make decisions on a study-by-study basis. “As Research Ready develops, we will also develop the support we can offer to pharmacies so that they can build on their research involvement, with development opportunities for the whole team,” she adds.

To do by the end of January: read through the Research Ready guidance, which aims to build knowledge about what is required and what is recommended to take part in research studies, and assign a research lead — this could be yourself or a colleague.

To do by the end of 2015: complete the Research Ready training and, if appropriate, sign up to take part in a study.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20067256

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  • Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Attend a webinar, workshop or study day
  • Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Join your local practice forum
  • Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Build a relationship with your local healthcare professional
  • Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Become a dementia friend
  • Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Become a pre-registration tutor
  • Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Be an active participant in a pharmacy conference
  • Career-based New Year’s resolutions: Get your community pharmacy "Research Ready"

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